Sadio Mané’s arrival from Southampton for £32m, a price tag which certainly raised eyebrows, however, will he be able to prove these critics wrong and emulate the factors of his gameplay that made him so successful at Southampton?
Judging by his performance solely last night against Tranmere in Liverpool’s pre-season friendly, Mané already looks to be the real deal. Here’s a glance at his qualities, his statistics, and how he can bolster Liverpool’s attacking options..
The 24-year-old, purchased from Southampton, can play in various positions on the flanks and lead the line as a forward. However, statistics imply that he is better off playing as an attacking midfielder on the right, as he has netted 5 goals in 9 appearances in that position, and two assists.
His qualities are contrary to what strikers like Christian Benteke had to offer at Anfield. His pace in abundance can help him get the better of defenders, especially in wing positions. His hold-up play is excellent, but most importantly, his chance creation rate is fairly high; in 2015-2016, he created 41 chances for his-team mates, including 34 key passes & 6 assists. He will need to be able to provide service to strikers like Sturridge and Origi, something which Benteke wasn’t given, neither Ings.
Now, onto the most vital attribute of all – goalscoring. Mane contributed 11 goals for Southampton last season in 37 appearances – overall, managing a very impressive 76 goals in 78 appearances overall for the Saints over 3 seasons. He managed a conversion rate of 16.9% last season at St Mary’s.
My only concern with Mané is his lack of strength & fitness. Ideally, we would want a striker who has strength to win aerial duels – Mane only won 50% last season. We lack bulky and strong players in our midfield and attack, which he had in the form of players such as John Arne Riise in the Houllier and Benitez era.
In my opinion, he can bring pace, goals, and create chances for our strikers, plus make good movement, the complete contradiction to Benteke’s qualities in his first season at Anfield.
Above all, we need to keep him fit and his form needs to be consistent. If he struggles with his fitness, we can lose our attacking mentality in terms of pace going forward. If Mane does not show any good form after his first 5-10 games, Liverpool fans will immediately be starting at the rotten tomatoes & slating him for not being an instant success.
However, Liverpool fans need to give players & the manager a chance – we’re heading in the right direction, and Klopp is showing the right mentality so far in the window. We need to wait to see how he gels in with the team, but looking at his performance so far, he is an impressive signing.
Written by Ste Lindell (@SteLindellLFC)